Based on all the calls, emails and chats we receive day in and day out, we can put some stock behind saying Whistler is a one of Ski Country’s most sought-after destinations. Since Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and SKI magazine’s No. 1 rated, it’s not hard to understand why. If your ski vacation is the trip you look forward to all year, make sure you check this bucket-list destination off your list this season.
If you have been putting off your first trip to Whistler because of funds, there’s never been a more affordable time to experience North America’s largest ski resort. U.S. skiers and snowboarders can save an extra 20% thanks to a favorable exchange rate.
In addition to savings, capitalize on top Whistler experiences with our 5-day sample itinerary, comprised with the help of our local contacts and Bryan, a Ski.com Mountain Travel Expert.
Mountain Travel Expert Since 2004
Day 1: Check in to your accommodations and check out the village
You’ll be flying into the ultra-easy-to-navigate Vancouver International Airport, and then you can choose to hop in your rental car and drive the two hours along one of North America’s most scenic roads: the Sea to Sky Highway, aka Highway 99. Alternatively, you can board the Rocky Mountaineer Train for the four-hour Sea to Sky Climb and relax and take in the awe-inspiring sights.
Once you’ve arrived at the foot of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, the two peaks that make up the 8,171-acre resort, your senses will be tickled by all the new sights, sounds, smells and shopping opportunities that the huge, modern base villages provide. Before you start exploring, check into your accommodations.
If you’re aiming to experience a top accommodation on your first Whistler ski vacation, consider staying at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. This full-service ski in ski out hotel is great for first-time vacationers to Whistler because it takes the guesswork out of lot of details. In addition to providing convenient access to the slopes, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler offers incredible amenities, like an indoor and outdoor hot tub and pool, a steam room/sauna, full-service health spa and other expediencies, like an onsite ski shop, ski valet, restaurants and a bar/lounge. Guests of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler can even bring their pooch along for the trip.
“I love the Fairmont as it is easily the best hotel and location in Whistler,” says Bryan, “It’s great for ski school and getting on the lift in the morning.”
After you’ve settled into your room or suite, hit the town.
“If you’re arriving on a Sunday, make a point of checking out the Fire & Ice Show, where skiers and snowboarders flip through flaming hoops.”
This free spectacle is held at Skier’s Plaza in Whistler Village base between Whistler and Blackcomb Gondolas.
Even if you arrive on the late side, you can still squeeze in some last-minute gear shopping at the base villages’ shops, which include Patagonia, Columbia, Roxy/Quiksilver, The Northface, Salomon and much more. During peak holiday travel periods, Whistler’s village shops stay open until 10 p.m.!
Day 2: Explore Whistler Blackcomb’s massive terrain
Get a leg up on your first day on North America’s top ski resort. Ask your Mountain Travel Expert to sign you up for the Fresh Tracks program, which includes a hearty breakfast at the Roundhouse Lodge and early access to the slopes. Take in the layout of the resort and enjoy some warm-up runs on Harmony Ridge, located off the Harmony Express lift.
As a first timer to Whistler Blackcomb, finding your way around this massive resort can be a little daunting. Take the speculation out of navigation and join one of the free Mountain Tours, which meet at 11:15 a.m. daily at the top of the Whistler Gondola and the top of Blackcomb’s Solar Coaster Express.
A lesson can also be a great way to get yourself familiar with a new resort. Not only will the instructors give you tips on how to clean up your technique, which even experts can benefit from, but they’ll also show you around the resort.
“If you’re looking for an exclusive experience, opt for a private lesson, or if you want a high-touch lesson without the cost, book a Max 4 Ski or Snowboard Lesson,” says Bryan.
The chances are likely that, at some point during your first day on the slopes at Whistler Blackcomb, you’ll get the opportunity to ride the longest and highest lift in the world: the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola. The expansive cable car connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain and transports 4,100 passengers per hour. If you’re riding from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb, don’t miss lunch at Crystal Hut. Here you can enjoy their famous fully loaded Belgian waffles. If you’re heading to Whistler from Blackcomb, make a reservation at Steeps in the Roundhouse Lodge, where you can indulge in international wines and locally sourced cuisine.
To celebrate your first day on North America’s largest ski resort head to one of the popular apres-ski bars, like Garibaldi Lift Co. (GLC), located at the base of Whistler Mountain, or Merlin’s, located at the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
Replenish your energy with dinner at Sushi Village, which features terrific sushi, traditional Japanese plates and legendary sake margaritas.
Day 3: Test your mettle and get a taste for Whistler’s many restaurants
Now that you’re a little more familiar, challenge yourself to the terrain found along the upper reaches of the resort. The best way to do this is to sign up for a two-day steeps camp with Extremely Canadian.
“The knowledgeable instructors will help you discover top secret steep stashes and give you terrain-tackling tips,” says Bryan.
Learn more about Whistler’s top steep terrain, and try to tick some of these iconic runs off your list.
When it’s time to refuel, you have more than 100 world-class restaurants to choose from, so deciding where to spend your time and money—especially as a first-time visitor—can be tough. Become a well-educated Whistler diner overnight on a Whistler Tasting Tour, which includes four courses at four different restaurants and optional wine pairings.
Day 4: Ski the steeps and enjoy your stripe of nightlife
Check off your last-remaining terrain conquests under the guidance of Extremely Canadian’s instructors and celebrate an incredible ski vacation with an evening of revelry at a nightlife hot spot of your choosing. Here are some of Bryan’s top picks:
- For a local’s scene, have some beers and pizza at the Brewhouse. For live music, head to Merlin’s, and check out El Furniture Warehouse for pub flavors.
- You can start and end the evening at the Bearfoot Bistro, which is one of Whistler’s top restaurants and home of the Ice Room, the world’s coldest vodka-tasting room.
- Party the night away with top 40 hits and the classics at Buffalo Bills, or get your moves on at Tommy Africa’s, which hosts internationally acclaimed DJs.
Day 5: Take a day off from the slopes and experience Whistler’s many adventures or indulgences
Whistler’s immense base villages and surrounding mountains provide guests with a thick portfolio of experiences and activities to choose from. Whistler offers top-notch classic off-mountain activities, like ice skating and dog sledding, and plenty of unique experiences, too. Remember, you save an extra 20% on the activities listed below thanks to favorable exchange rates.
Here are some of Bryan’s favorite off-resort experiences:
- Tie a bucket-list experience onto a bucket-list destination and book a day in the bird with Whistler Heli-Skiing, which provides access to 432,000 additional acres of terrain.
- Feel the wind in your face at the Coco-Cola Tube Park. It’s fun for the whole family!
- See the mountains from an eagle’s eye with ZipTrek EcoTours as you zoom across six amazing ziplines. For a breathtaking experience try a Twilight Tour in the dark.
- Visit the spectacular First Nations venue, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, which showcases indigenous culture through exhibits, art, food and much more.
- Ride a bobsled or skeleton on the fastest track in the world at the Whistler Sliding Centre, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
- After a couple of action packed days, it’s time to relax at Scandinave Spa. Rest and rejuvenate in the hot or cold baths or treat yourself to a massage.
- A trip to Canada wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t ice skate, outside! At the Olympic Plaza you can skate to your heart’s content.
- For an exclusive dining experience, journey by snowmobile to the charming Crystal Hut for a fondue dinner with Canadian Wilderness Adventures.
Now that you’re armed with some insight on how to have an incredible first ski trip to Whistler, book your vacation to make it a reality. Bryan and our 65+ other Mountain Travel Experts can help you customize and book your flights, rental cars, lodging and more. They’re standing by at 800-610-8911. You can also get started by filling out a form for a free custom quote.
Director of SEO + Content
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now living in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com as Director of SEO + Content, I've been able to combine a litany of skills, passions and interests. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.